Cloquet-Esko-Carlton players celebrated after forward Dana Jones (4) scored in the first period. Photo: Shari L. Gross ¥ firstname.lastname@example.org
Eleven years removed from its last state tournament appearance, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls’ hockey team struggled with jitters heading into its quarterfinal Wednesday.
Senior Jenna Zdebski shattered the tension at Xcel Energy Center with a goal 90 seconds into the game. With freshman goaltender Araya Kiminski making 18 saves against Hutchinson, the Lumberjacks earned a 2-0 victory.
“That goal gave us so much momentum,” sophomore Dana Jones said. “That was the moment where we like, ‘OK, we’ve got this. We’re here. We earned our spot here. We’re good.’ ”
Two goals in the first period provided Cloquet-Esko-Carlton all the cushion needed to defeat Hutchinson.
Goals from Jenna Zdebski and Dana Jones and a shutout by goaltender Araya Kiminski sent No. 3 seed Cloquet-Esko-Carlton (26-3) to the Class 1A semifinals on Friday against Warroad.
The Lumberjacks are back at the state tournament for the first time since 2009.
Hutchinson (21-8) got blanked for just the second time this season. The Tigers nearly scored late in the second period but Kiminski slid over and got her leg pad on the puck. She finished with 18 saves.
Check back later for more on the game.